Moving to Freedom, .Org

An Open Letter to My Interventionists

fossil shark teeth, from wikimedia

I had a problem yesterday. I didn’t allow myself to write a “shitty first draft.” (This is one of Sister Lamott’s core teachings.)

I was taken with an idea, imagining it published at McSweeney’s as an “Open Letter to People or Entities Unlikely to Respond,” and suddenly I had created pressure to write a certain way, and that it would be really great, and I froze. I dilly-dallied more than usual and Resistance took the opportunity to smack me in the face.

Please note that I aim for “really great” on all my blog posts, for your sake, but I’m more forgiving an editor than those guys at McSweeney’s. (I allow myself to be simply good, or just tolerable, or plain awful.) I got away from the program that’s been working for me and had a less than self-actualized writing day.

I had a glimpse of what Stephen King meant about a story being a found thing. A fossil you unearth from the ground, and carefully brush away the dirt and chip at the stone. I wasn’t digging up a fossil the way I have on some of my “better” posts. It felt more like scooping up handfuls of sand and haphazardly imagining a bone before it all ran through my fingers.

Another problem: I spent way too much time on Twitter, and received less approval and validation than expected. I got some love there, although all those stars and retweets are more like coins dropping in a tin cup. A lot of standing around and begging and appearing needy, just for some spare change. But the alms are appreciated, and it’s fun — or at least numbing — and it’s better than a sugar IV drip. It works for an introvert like me. I can close the window when I’ve had enough, and come back 3-5 minutes later for more.

Despite my struggles, I feel good. I’m doing the writing thing. I’ll keep doing it. (I’m doing it right now!) I’m getting constructive comments. One of my most dedicated readers, who I hadn’t heard from in a while, responded yesterday to my recent posts. For “Hiding,” she wrote, “I feel like you need to talk to a professional.” For the next day’s effort, “Demon Gin,” she wrote, “…a REALLY good professional…”

I replied (more or less), “Oh, COME ON. You pass on all the well-adjusted happy stuff to hit me on these posts?” I continued, boasting and justifying, “I’m getting some nice feedback from readers to the tune of: would I please get out of their heads. See, I’m appealing to the mentally ill segment of the population, which is why you enjoy this stuff.”

Let me quickly say that if you’re reading my posts and/or have made comments that indicate some level of identification with my deranged thoughts, I don’t necessarily think you’re mentally ill. I was just trying to make a point with this friend, who is a disturbed individual. For those of you that might like reading my ramblings but are perfectly well-adjusted: I hope you’re not offended. I’m sure there’s plenty of material here for sane people, and I don’t mean to imply that you’re not whole and well. I’m sure that you’re fine.

Finally, re: the title of this post. Does it seem misleading? It was my killer title for McSweeney’s, but why give it to them for free when I can sell it here? It felt vaguely appropriate anyway, and you’ll likely get the spirit of the letter in a post coming out in a week or three, except of course it will be an entirely different animal than what I thought I was digging up.